I've only briefly heard the Thiel 2.3, 3.6 and 6, but have lived with 2.2s for about 8 years. Of course I really like them.
I heard the 2.3 and 6 at a dealer recently but in dissimilar rooms on non-comparable gear. At that time I felt I couldn't live with the 2.3, but the room was clearly suboptimal. I thought the 6 was great.
I feel my system (Thiel 2.2, McCormack DNA-1, BAT VK-3i tube Pre, AudioAlchemy digital, PAD cables) is a bit harsh on piano, and I'm always interested in more detail.
So I've been wondering about the 2.3 or 2.4 in comparison to the 2.2. (yes I know there's no "." in 2.2 - it's just a little protest). Here are my potential upgrade paths and estimated cost (net of selling the 2.2, ignoring the freight):
used 2.3 for add'l. $1.2k
new 2.4 for add'l. $2.9k
used 6 for add'l. $3.2k
How do these perform compared to 2.2?
Would the 6 be a better value than the 2.4?
Thanks, and g'luck
I agree with you D.H. The first time I heard 3.6's it was a revelation. I had never heard more "realism" coming from a speaker, particularly a box speaker. I have owned these for about 3 years and have thrown some significant dough upstream and they just get better and better. I must admit, I've never heard a larger model. In fact, in my travels I can't recall a dealer who carries Thiel having a system set up for audition - maybe I've just been unlucky. I was in D.C. recently at Soundworks , they carry an enormous selection of speakers, and they had CS6's and 7.2's disconnected and up against a wall. I would love to hear larger models for comparison.
I haven't heard the 2.4's. If they are anything like other Thiels, and with out trying to offend anyone else's system, I think they deserve better than the particular solid state gear you have been auditioning with so far.
The last mile of performance always costs disproportionately more, but the end result is the difference between a reproduction and reality. This is true of many things from art to home theater an it greatly depends on the objective. It is unfair on the Thiels to define the objective as reality, which happens to be that of some of the other speakers mentioned. "Thiel = truth of signal Period" this statement is the equivalent of describing a poster to be more accurate and vivid in colors than the original painting.
Let me share my experience with the thiels and the contrasts between certain other speakers. In the world of reproduction indeed the thiels lead the pack with an extremely high quality reproduction and a solid company that backs and markets their products well. In a side-by-side comparison with a 30k speaker I found the thiels to have a much bigger soundstage, however upon closer examination it was too big. It was as though the recording was played back through some reverb instrument where the vocals and instruments seemed to appear from everywhere.....more specifically, all the vocalists seem to be sharing a single microphone and performing in a cave that had this glorious echo and one could not place anything in perspective. In other words whatever the thiels were doing in their crossover to create an artificial soundstage were doing so indiscriminately affecting everything. This takes away not only from reality but the effects distract from being able to engage emotionally with the music.
When I heard the same track on the other speaker with all things remaining the same, such as equipment and placement; I heard what the engineer intended but more importantly I was part of the performance as in being in the same room, not outside looking in. Instruments and Singers fell into their natural and believable positions not just front to back and left to right but everything sounded its appropriate height. The sad thing here is that one does not realize these virtues in a simple audition, at first glance many speakers can be very impressive. It is only when you have lived with them and then upgrade do you learn what you were missing.
In my books when it comes to a mere reproduction my standards are not very high. As a matter of fact I have really enjoyed several inexpensive speakers that were free of excessive distortion and sound effects and I appreciated them for what they were. But is you are talking about evoking the same passion that live music does, then anything that cannot do so, regardless of price is to expensive. And yes unfortunately many speakers that do get you to that state of exhilaration are ultra expensive and not necessarily justified in cost of materials.
Sam, what was "the other speaker", and which model of Thiel were you comparing it to?
Yes, Sam what speaker or speakers are you referring to? That's an interesting opinion, I myself have never realized that phenomenon - I'm not defending Thiel because I own but would just like to know your comparison model.
A little background:
I went to a store to buy a DAC and the salesman informed me that he had just returned from a training seminar (initiation) at thiel and he was proud to present the Thiel 2.4 which by his account were as good as the 6 (the only 2 models he had on the showroom floor) and I should definitely audition the 2.4s to establish a new reference.
I auditioned the same Holy Cole Trio track the on the thiels 2.4, 6, B&W 802, CM4 and pipedreams. I have also since heard the other speakers mentioned Rockport, Wilsons and Karma sound fabulous to the point of justifying the price difference. Contrary to the point that danhirsh made, of the thiels sounding every bit as good as them.
I recently compared 9(?) year old Thiel 2 2's and new Nautilus 801's at a dealer's, running on a Krell FPB600 w/ $8k Wadia 861(?) front end/pre.
1) Wow! I didn't know the Thiels could do that. I've decided to keep them for another year and upgrade the amp instead.
2) Somewhat in contrast to Ianbothan's comment, and in my wife's words, we felt the 801s were "bigger than life". Clearly much larger image than the 2 2. She decided she wouldn't be happy with the 801 or 804 in large part (pun?) for this reason. We didn't hear the 802.
3) I liked the humble old Thiels' stage better. It was deeper, and was more 3D, albeit behind the plane of the speaker. The 801 was taller and wider, but in the same plane as the speaker - kind of 2D.
This doesn't mean I like the 2.2 better than the 801. For example the 801s were simply stunning on orchestral music. Perhaps the answer is one pair of each .....
Anyway, I was amazed what a $1k used old pair of Thiels could do next to a behemoth like the $11k n801. And I've never felt the stage was unnaturally large.
I can't wait to hear the 2.4's! I bought one of the first pair of 2.3s off the line and was very happy with them for four years teamed with an Air Tight ATM2 80 wpc tube amp and Air tight ATC3 pre. I had to muck it all up last year by thinking bigger must be better.
A year ago, I upgraded to the CS6s and was very disappointed. Much to my shagrin, the ATM2 could not drive the CS6s anywhere near their potential in my 5000+ cubic foot room, despite what some reviewers said. Many people warned me the CS6s would not "put out" with such a meager power amp as the ATM2. Say it ain't so!
After 10 months of buyers remorse and CD's that sounded better than vinyl (Fremmer - please don't read this!) I threw down for the new poor man's Krell (Bryston 14B-SST).
After a couple of weeks of break in, things began to sound better and more like I remember before the upgrade. Subtle deatils were back in spades and the soundstage opened up wall to wall.
The CS6s took to their new high power amp like a fish to water - very relaxed with power to spare. The only thing missing is the euphony of tubes. Call me crazy, but as good as the sound that I'm getting is, the system does not evoke the emotion of the 2.3s and ATM2. The current system is clearly more resolving than the latter, but emotion is what keeps me in the listening chair.
Perhaps I should take out the 14B-SST and add another ATM2 and mono them both for additional power. Or, more ecomomically, dump the CS6s and solid state gorilla and go back to the ATM2 and the new CS2.4s. Any thoughts?
Sam, are you sure your Thiels weren't just out of phase? I've never heard a more natural and believable soundstage with any speaker brand, ever. I started with .5's, then moved to 1.5's and finally 2.3's, and I have numerous freinds here in Nashville who are recording engineers (I'm one as well), and none of them have been able to believe the startling clarity and pinpoint focus of my 2.3's. If you got the sensation of an 'artificial soundstage,' I think you'd be well advised to check either your speaker leads or your hearing.
I've sold Thiels for years, as with many others. I've owned lots of speakers as well, including Thiel 2.3's and 1.5's for my listening room. While I pressently don't have Thiel in my set up's, I always admired their neutrality, detail, and refinement of sound!...and overall top to bottom balance, build quiality, etc. Overall, to this day, I would recommend Thiel's to anyone,yes. Jim makes some quaility efforts indeed. The older generation Thiels I think really wanted Tubes throughout to balance the sound better. The later Thiels I think can get buy with a good tube preamp instead! The bass wins here, and the speakers are more flexible now.
Still, I've heard good things about the 2.4's, which probabaly improve on soundstage, edge refinement, and bass over the older 2.3's. I'd like to hear em soon. My experience selling the 7.2 was that it was an excellent speaker overall, a bit laid back in balance, with excellent top to bottom integration. They wouldn't play as hard and authoritative for rock as some, but they were a first rate effort indeed.
Infact, for HT, I've not found a better in the Thiel line than the 2.3's! I can't talk for the newer 2.4's or 1.6's, as those might be an improvment, I don't know.
Still, I'd wholeheartedly recommend Thiels anyday to anyone seaking higher sonic virtue.